Ethics: an essay on the understanding of evil
Ethics: an essay on the understanding of evil is a book by Alain Badiou, who is a famous French philosopher. He shows how the fundamental ethical principles serve to strengthen an ideology of the status quo and fail to provide an outline for the understanding of the concept of evil. He also proves that how ethics apprehend regarding negative human rights and tolerance of difference cannot reinforce a rational concept of evil. In the first two chapters of this book, Badiou finds that Kantian’s concept of ethics is problematic. The alternative to ethics of difference, which roots in Levinas is not a proper answer. In reaction to these bi-systems of ethics, he suggests thinking about truth and ethics in a processual method.
1- Does Man Exist?
According to Alian Badiou, after the collapse of radical Marxism, the West has returned to an idea of ethics based on the promotion and enforcement and of individual rights. These rights of Man are thought to be equally self-evident as well as universal.
This position has been criticized, beginning in the 1960s, by individuals like Jacques Lacan Michel, Louis Althusser and Foucault. They challenged the notion of a natural or religious individuality of Man" suggested by this method of ethics that they think is simply a cover to get a self-satisfied, Western-centric idea of Good and Evil. They opposed to this a "death of man" that opens up the likelihood of uprising. According to Alian, the ethics of individual rights is, in fact, a return to Kant.
· There is a general and universal human subject
· Ethics lead up to politics
· Evil comes from the Good (rather than the other way round)
· ‘Human rights’ are rights to non-Evil.
2- Does the Other Exist?
The origin of ethics of difference and ethics to others comes from the work of Emmanuel L´evinas. Badiou summarizes the views of Emmanuel ´evinas in this book. Levinas keeps that metaphysics, restrained by its Greek origins, has supporting thought to the logic of the same, to the predominance of substance and individuality. But, according to Levinas, it is not possible to reach at a trustworthy thought of the other (and therefore an ethics of the relation to the other) from the authoritarianism of the same, which is unable of knowing this other. So, we need to turn to non-Greek origin to find others way of thinking. In Jewish law, L´evinas finds it which doesn’t tell him what it is but what is obligatory by the existence of others. This law of the other might opposed to the real laws. According to L´evinas, ethics is a thought which has tossed out its logical chains means the principle of identity in favor of its predictive submission to the law of founding disparity. This ethics of difference is commonly used by the supporters' fo ethics as a part of a commonsensical discourse- means it opposes the ethics of difference to racism, acknowledgement of the other to identitarian constancy, and tolerance to extremism. This view is “blindingly distant from the conception of things of L´evinas.
Author: Vicki Lezama